DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Everybody knows Jasmine Thomas is getting the ball when No. 3 Duke needs another late rally. Nobody has been able to stop her.
Thomas scored seven of her 22 points in the final 2 minutes, and the Blue Devils remained undefeated by rallying past No. 14 Maryland 71-64 on Thursday night.
“There’s just no other guard like her,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
Tricia Liston added 12 points for the Blue Devils (15-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). They shot 38 percent and used a late 11-2 run to extend their winning streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium to 17. They’re also off to their best start since the 2006-07 team opened 30-0.
Kim Rodgers scored 18 points and Diandra Tchatchouang added 14 for Maryland (13-2, 0-1), which went up 60-58 on Lynetta Kizer’s layup with 2:39 to play before Duke got rolling moments later.
“You don’t want to have to wait until the end of the game to be at your most intense state,” Thomas said. “We’ve been here so many times already this season that I think, as a team, we are comfortable in that situation, and we all just come together, and we all pick it up on defense because we know we have to. There is no 20 more minutes to make up for your mistakes.”
Thomas put the Blue Devils up for good with a long 3-pointer over Anjale Barrett with 1:55 left, making it 61-60. After Duke forced a stop, she came through again, swishing a runner over Barrett while fading right to stretch it to three. She added two free throws with 41.7 seconds left.
“We said it in the time out, that she was going to take over,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. Later, she added with a smile: “I’m ready for her to graduate.”
Freshman Chelsea Gray then stole a sideline pass and took it back for a layup to make it 65-60 with 51 seconds left. The Terps couldn’t make it a one-possession game the rest of the way.
“I thought we played with great poise the first 37 minutes, and we really just lost our composure,” Frese said.
Krystal Thomas added 10 rebounds for Duke, which held a 46-42 rebounding advantage and improved to 4-0 this season against Top 25 opponents — all at home. The Blue Devils, who attempted a season-high 29 3-pointers and made six, have won nine of 10 against the Terrapins at Cameron and four straight overall in one of the ACC’s most intense rivalries.
Duke was coming off a 54-48 win over No. 10 Kentucky two nights earlier in which Gray scored the go-ahead basket off a defender’s fingers in the final minute, and the Blue Devils also beat then-No. 7 Texas A&M and then-No. 4 Xavier — both marked by game-deciding plays by Jasmine Thomas in the closing seconds.
“I honestly feel as comfortable during that situation as I do the entire game,” she said. “There are times during a game where I become real quiet — I don’t take a lot of shots. … All of a sudden, at the end of the game, the ball’s in my hand and it’s time for (the opponent) to actually pay attention to me. I know they know it’s going to me, but I feel like maybe that affects it.”
Alyssa Thomas finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds, and Barrett had 10 assists for Maryland, which fell to 1-2 against ranked opponents.
Until the Blue Devils pulled away in the final minutes, neither team led by more than four during a tight second half in which there were six ties and only three lead changes.
Diandra Tchatchouang hit a 3-pointer — just her fifth this season — with 6:14 left to give Maryland its first lead since early in the second half, 53-52. Duke didn’t lead again until Thomas’ 25-footer in the final 2 minutes.
For a while early, though, it looked like the Blue Devils might get run off their notoriously inhospitable home court.
Keyed by consecutive 3s from Rodgers, Maryland reeled off 14 straight points while holding Duke scoreless for more than 5 minutes and taking a 22-13 lead with 12 minutes left in the half.
Rodgers later hit a layup to make it 25-15 — the only double-figure lead for either team.
Duke got back in the game with a Krystal Thomas-led 12-2 run that tied it at 27, but Kizer’s hook shot at the buzzer gave Maryland a 33-29 at the break — the Blue Devils’ largest halftime deficit of the season.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)